After numerous corona-induced delays, Wonder Woman 1984 finally debuted on HBO Max and in theaters last Christmas. The DCEU sequel was led by the returning Gal Gadot as the titular Amazonian hero, and she was joined by exciting new villains Maxwell Lord and Cheetah, played by Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig, respectively.
In the months leading to the premiere of Wonder Woman 1984, there were concerns about the potential delays of the film and how they would affect the film's performance; this included several adjustments to its marketing such as removing the already-announced release date. As a result, fans were confused about the release strategy of the sequel, but it was made clear when Warner Bros. announced that the DCEU film would be released simultaneously on HBO Max and movie theaters.
Warner Bros.' bold release strategy became a major topic amongst fans and critics. As a result, it didn't take long before numerous issues emerged from the move, such as the payout of Gadot and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and reported criticisms of several directors like The Suicide Squad's James Gunn and The Dark Knight trilogy's Christopher Nolan.
Despite that, it seems that there is still something positive that came from Warner's deal with Wonder Woman 1984...
The Hollywood Reporter shared in a report that “nearly half” of HBO Max's subscribers watched Wonder Woman 1984 on the day of its release, along with “millions of wholesale subscribers” who have access to the streaming platform via cable.
Warner Media also revealed HBO Max's total viewing hours on Friday (December 25) “more than triple in comparison to a typical day in the previous month.”
WarnerMedia direct-to-consumer chief Andy Forssell shared that Wonder Woman 1984 “broke records and exceeded our expectations.” The full statement can be seen below.
“Wonder Woman 1984 broke records and exceeded our expectations across all of our key viewing and subscriber metrics in its first 24 hours on the service, and the interest and momentum we’re seeing indicates this will likely continue well beyond the weekend. During these very difficult times, it was nice to give families the option of enjoying this uplifting film at home, where theater viewing wasn’t an option.”
Wonder Woman 1984 also had an estimated $16.7 million domestic opening in the United States, which is being touted as the “best weekend debut” of any film since the coronavirus pandemic began.
In a separate release from Warner Media, it was revealed that the sequel took in an estimated “$36.1 million globally from 42 markets” in the film's release this weekend (including U.S. and Canada), taking the international running total to $68.3 million, and the worldwide tally to $85 million.
Warner Media pointed out that private watch parties and large format screens (IMAX®, Dolby, PLF) were the main reason behind the sudden surge of ticket sales and were the most popular option among consumers.
WHAT THIS MEANS
The concurrent streaming/theater launch of the film is the first of many planned for Warner Bros. The strategy is seemingly working for the Wonder Woman sequel, which is a good sign for the 2021 films of Warner Bro. Could this success also change how several directors and cast members of the aforementioned movies are reacting to the studio's unique release model? Only time will tell.
There are many factors to consider about Wonder Woman 1984's impressive HBO Max debut. For example, the timing of the movie's release is fitting, as so many are at home celebrating the holidays with their families. There's a good chance that numerous viewers included the DCEU sequel to their Christmas tradition.
While the critics' consensus score of Wonder Woman 1984 from Rotten Tomatoes dropped over the weekend, the viewing numbers of the sequel could still end up a solid win for HBO Max. In any case, this just goes to show that fans are eager for new content this year.
In addition, it is also stunning that Wonder Woman 1984 received a solid opening weekend at the box office, and the fact that the film did it during a peak time of the ongoing health crisis presents a strong message that movie theaters are still a viable competitior to the streaming landscape.
All in all, Wonder Woman 1984 is indeed worth the wait for longtime fans of the franchise, and things are already looking up thanks to a threequel that is currently in development.